Agriculture Policy

Any Crop Combination That Doesn’t Include Paddy is Not the Most Profitable

Even if there is assured procurement at minimum support prices (MSP) of other crops, any combination that does not include paddy will be less profitable to Punjab farmers, former agriculture secretary T Nanda Kumar and agricultural economist Shweta Saini write in an article in the Indian Express. By multiplying average yields of various crops in the state with their minimum support prices, the writers arrived at the revenue from each crop. Paddy, with an average yield of 6.7 tonnes per hectare fetched Punjab farmers Rs 1,47,108 per hectare in the last season. Wheat, which is a winter crop, earned Rs 1,04,605. Spring maize, grown as a third crop, fetched Rs 82,367 per hectare. Chana or chickpea, again a winter crop, fetched Rs 65,987. Mustard Rs 90,005. Green gram or mung bean Rs 79,589. Bajra Rs 16, 350 and sunflower Rs 1,20,666.

The writers say revenue from a combination of rice, wheat and spring maize earned the most at Rs 3,34,080 per hectare. Rainy season maize and wheat earned Rs 1,86,971. Returns from sugarcane were the highest at Rs 31 lakh per hectare. Sugarcane is a 10-12 month crop. To wean Punjab farmers from water intensive paddy, the writers say it is important to improve the yields of other crops. That alone will not be enough. Cash incentives will have to be given for about five years to bring incomes at par with the best crop combination involving paddy. They also suggest that farmers should diversify into poultry, inland fisheries and dairy farming, which are more profitable.

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